King Rat Review

King Rat
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King Rat ReviewAfter reading Mieville's phenomenal "Perdido Street Station" I rushed right out to buy his first novel, "King Rat." I could have delayed my haste. While also stylish and distinctively written, this dark, urban fantasy, compared to his second work, is a rough cut, much more loosely written and barely approaching the wonders or skill of writing present in the following novel. While I may be grudging of comment by comparison, "Perdido Street Station" is a masterpiece of speculative fiction, whereas "King Rat" reads as a someways good but fledgling effort. In many respects there is little to distinguish it from early Charles De Lint, though Mieville comes across here as more hip and involved with the music he provides as an underlying theme.
While certainly a departure from the ordinary fantasy, written with a degree of verve and suspense, drawing, as another reviewer has stated, upon the folklore of the Piper of Hamelin and tales of the rat king, placed within the context of modern day London and its vibrant, in part underground music scene, this tale lacks both the riveting use of language and the vivid world creation found in the author's second novel. Unlike "Perdido Street Station," as others have additionally noted, here the characters remain relatively flat, perhaps in part intentionally reflecting the cartoon characters referenced in the novel. As earlier stated, more loosely written and evolved, the cord of metaphor underlying the basic storyline never seems as fully integrated or realized as in Mieville's second novel, unable to entirely lift the tale above the surface of its active, running narrative, or significantly set it apart from other and equally skilled writers of urban fantasy.
Though I suspect fans of urban fantasy may find my observations too harsh, or critical by comparison, it is doubtful had I even not read "Perdido Street Station" that I would have been enamoured with this novel. Good but far from great, this is a very respectable first effort that should be applauded for what it attempts, even if not entirely successful. One catches glimpses of the brilliance later displayed and captured fully in "Perdido Street Station," as well as the author's desire to push speculative fiction beyond its normal boundaries. Nonetheless, I can only give this effort at best three and a half stars.King Rat Overview

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